Hot girl summer to sad girl autumn

Lana Del Rey’s ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ is her best album yet

By on September 4, 2019

The globe is burning, the political landscape is disjointed and the world has fallen to the ideas of men who have zero qualifications in inheriting it. These apocalyptic themes are just some of the ideas that are explored on the new Lana Del Rey album, “Norman Fucking Rockwell.” 

Del Rey’s last studio album, 2017’s “Lust for Life,” detailed a newfound happiness. After being labeled a “sad girl” by the music industry with her commercial breakthrough, “Born to Die,” the singer known for her dreamy vocals decided to add some new layers and show different sides to the ever magical mythology of Lana Del Rey. The same is true for this new album, her most complex yet. 

Del Rey began the era with the first two releases, “Mariners Apartment Complex” and “Venice Bitch.” She solidifies the light, airy and melancholic atmosphere of the album through these two songs. Her delicate vocals hint at a sadness while still feeling elated. This is a recurring technique that she uses throughout the album. 

The first and the title track of the album sets the tone for what’s to come. The song features frustration and resentment with the current political climate, with lyrics such as ‘”Cause you’re just a man/ It’s just what you do/ Your head in your hands/ As you color me blue.” The namesake of the album, Norman Rockwell, was not only famous for his paintings and illustrations. He was also famously known for his egotistical tendencies. 

In an interview with Zane Lowe, Del Rey said of the album title, “It’s kind of about this guy who is such a genius artist but he thinks he’s the shit and he knows it and he, like, won’t shut up talking about it.” 

It is very apparent that Del Rey is tired of dealing with these narcissistic figures in regard to today’s politics, her love life, and her business ventures. 

This is not the only time the singer discusses these themes in the album. A song featured later on in the album, “The Greatest,” shadows the same concerns as the title track. Discussing the feel of an apocalyptic end with lyrics such as “Hawaii just missed that fireball/ L.A. is in flames‚ it’s getting hot/ Kanye West is blond and gone/ ‘Life on Mars’ ain’t just a song.” The song also feels like she’s mourning the loss of her world that she’s known for all her life. As a result, the song is incredibly nostalgic and sentimental.

Despite the common themes of sadness and horror, there is still a sense of good spirits found within the soul of Del Rey. The duality of the album is perfectly illustrated through the song, “Love Song.” With lyrics such as “In the car, in the car, in the backseat I’m your baby/ We go fast, we go so fast we don’t move/ I believe in a place you take me/ Make you real proud of your baby/ In your car, I’m a star and I’m burning through you.” Del Rey showcases a love so strong that it just may burn her out. She is content for now, but would not be surprised if this love ends up hurting her, like in the past. 

Del Rey further elaborates on the feelings found in “Love Song,” on the track, “Fuck it, I Love You.” The lyrics, “Baby‚ wish that you would hold me or just say that you were mine/ But it’s killing me slowly,” showcase a sense of longing to feel safe in the embrace of her love. Her voice masks the darker themes of the track through the ethereal and angelic sound of it. This is confirmed later on in the song, “Cinnamon Girl,” to be done on purpose. Del Rey is sort of hiding her true feelings from her love, afraid to get hurt. 

Del Rey concludes the album with the appropriately Lana-esque title, “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have–but I have it.” The song feels like the perfect punctuation to the album with its tying of all the loose ends. The track manages to incorporate all the themes she explored so far into one concise song. Lyrics such as, “Don’t ask if I’m happy, you know that I’m not/ But at best I can say I’m not sad,” and “I’ve been tearing around in my fucking nightgown/ 24/7, Sylvia Plath/ Writing in blood on your walls/ ‘Cause the ink in my pen don’t look good in my pad,” showcase the conclusion. The track is happy and sad, but ultimately it ends with a sense of hope–which is all you can say about the album. 

Lana Del Rey, after her two year hiatus, bounces back into her “sad girl” themes but also adds a little bit more. This album displays how she has grown as an artist and shows the multiple faces of her music and her life. The final product is one of Del Rey’s strongest bodies of work released in her career. The piece, at a perfect runtime of 14 tracks, is thought-provoking and a statement for today’s audiences. 

5/5 Stars

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